Iwo Jima Conducts First CONREP of Deployment
Navy News Service
Story Number: NNS120502-13
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Scott Youngblood, Amphibious Squadron 8 Public Affairs
USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- Multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) conducted its first connected replenishment-at-sea (CONREP) of their deployment with Fleet Replenishment Oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196), April 29.
Iwo Jima regularly performs refuelings-at-sea. Recently, the ship has primarily used vertical replenishment for food and other stores while refueling "over the rigs" from oilers. Having this opportunity, the Iwo performed a CONREP in order to keep the crew properly trained and proficient in all means of cargo movement.
"CONREPs are a vital skill for the ship and its Sailors," said Capt. Grady Banister, commanding officer of the Iwo Jima. "If we don't practice and keep our Sailors trained, we run the risk of not being prepared in the event we actually need to perform a CONREP."
Iwo Jima Sailors completed departmental training prior to the event, allowing Sailors to rotate through the different CONREP stations during the course of the actual event. More than 40 Sailors and 20 Marines participated at the replenishment stations, as well as more than 200 Sailors and Marines who came together in a working party that moved the stores into the cargo holds.
"Today's CONREP was outstanding," said Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate Michael Sweitzer, Iwo Jima's deck department leading senior chief petty officer. "All events went as a textbook evolution, from start to finish. We did a walk-through yesterday, and made sure there were plenty of safety precautions on station."
Once pallets were brought on board, they were broken down and carried by the working party to the mess decks where Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aleithia Young, Iwo Jima's food service officer, had all food stores accounted for before being moved to dry and cold storage.
"We have been prepping the freezer for three days to make sure there is room for the stores we are receiving," said Young.
All food stores are ordered by Young and Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Class Howard Fields, referred to as Jack of the Dust aboard Iwo Jima, to make sure Sailors and Marines are getting the "fuel" they need to keep the ship steaming, while staying fit to fight.
In addition to the 98 pallets of stores that came aboard via CONREP, Iwo Jima simultaneously took on 575,000 gallons of fuel. The evolution was accomplished safely while training junior Sailors and ensuring Iwo Jima's readiness on station in 6th Fleet.
"Any time two ships get along side at close quarters it can create a stressful environment," said Banister. "You try to mitigate that with as much preparation as possible and during CONREP, just as with any replenishment, you always try to prepare the crew members by going over all the procedures and all the safety measures that are put in place."
"One hundred pallets on the wire is a big deal for the ARG/MEU [Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit] team," said Capt. Mark H. Scovill, commodore, Iwo Jima ARG. "By conducting CONREP from time to time, instead of VERTREP [vertical replenishment] all the time, we preserve the flight deck for other purposes, such as maintenance and unit level training for the pilots as well as flight deck crew."
Iwo Jima is the flagship of the Iwo Jima ARG with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and is currently deployed to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.
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